What Do They Really Mean When They Call Us 'Bougie'?

What Do They Really Mean When They Call Us 'Bougie'?


This piece was inspired by a classmate of mine, Maya Mitchell. Last week, she released what I felt was a very necessary piece about our esteemed institution, Spelman College, and the elements that make it as special as it is. Now this piece was unlike any other piece I’ve ever read about Spelman, mainly because I’ve had intimate experiences with all of the components she highlighted. Whether it's the bad luck associated with walking under the alumnae arch or the search for a good white dress, every item on her list resonated with a part of my heart and probed me to debunk the most regurgitated theory about Spelman and the women that attend this great institution.

My position at Spelman now is something that I could not have even tried to predict for myself my senior year of high school when I began the tireless process of applying to college. I have never been afraid to admit the bumpy path I traveled to get to where I’m at now, but rarely do I ever admit the fact that I once led astray of HBCUs and the quality of the education they provide. I applied to over ten schools, including University of Pennsylvania, Yale, Vanderbilt, and University of Michigan, with only two of those schools being Historically Black; Howard University and Spelman College. But even in the process of applying to those two historically black institutions, my conviction that I could only attain an ivy league education at an ivy league stuck with me.

Accepted, waitlisted, and denied by some, I was convinced by a plethora of educators that to be taken seriously in the professional and intellectual world, my degree would have to be gleaned from a PWI (Predominately White Institution). But I chose Spelman, after much convincing from my mother, but also after following my gut feeling; a decision I'll stand by today, tomorrow, and next week, as my decision to attend Spelman was the best decision I have ever made in my life. However, (again, not afraid to admit this) I knew little to nothing about Spelman. The household of my good friend Evan Gayles, a rising sophomore at Howard University, is one of the first places where I heard the name of Spelman College. Her mother was a Spelman woman and just from leisure reflection, I remember that it was a fact she held on to with pride. The reason for her pride, little did I know, I would soon experience myself.

After determining that Spelman would be the institution that I would further my education at, I took it upon myself to reverse my ignorance of my new home. I became privy to the culture, history, and dynamic of the school. I’d never been in an all girls environment before, so I wanted to know what was so enriching about it. I was interested in seeing their curriculum, what internship opportunities they had to offer, and what businesses and corporations heavily recruited at Spelman. I was interested in hearing about the experiences of other Spelman women; whether they were class of 1988 or 2002, I was interested in knowing what the Spelman sisterhood was all about. And what I found was rich. The successes of my many predecessors showed tangible proof as to why Spelman reigns as the #1 HBCU in the country, and why this reign will be perpetual.

But what I ran into the most during my transition from a high school senior to a college freshman was the futile idea and opinion that all Spelman women were ‘bougie’. Even typing the words makes me feel as childish as those that preach it, but It’s a line I heard repeatedly during my first year of school from the mouths of both peers in Atlanta (those that attended other institutions and my brother institution, Morehouse College) and peers at home. Their stories and allegations painted the picture of a campus teeming with red bottom wearing trust fund babies who had an 8 o’clock campus curfew. They never had time for anything else but their work, and their curriculum bred them to be ruthless feminists who hydrate with men’s tears. They were cold-blooded, and an obvious force to not be reckoned with.

And I wasn’t necessarily sure if this was supposed to deter me, but I wanted ins. (I’m joking.)

But regardless of whatever preconceived notions those around me concocted about Spelman through either interaction or he-say/she-say, my own experiences can deem them all as invalid. Because of Spelman I know the importance of building a positive brand, and the importance of sustaining my education; I know how to always put myself in a position to learn something new no matter what the circumstance is. I know that I have a position in this world and that my talents can be used to change this world, otherwise I’m being selfish. I know hard work, and I know defeat in the face of hard work. But I also know 48-72 hours without sleep, persistence, and success. I know to never settle and I know that if I don’t get the credit that I’m owed, I take it because I deserve it. By attending an institution that has taken on the responsibility of ensuring the quantifiable success of women who look like me and only me, I now know how to get the attention of a world who tries so hard to deny both my existence and my contributions. And most importantly I know that I'm blessed to be apart of something as great as that. Besides, I truly don’t know another school that can teach me both the fundamentals of intersectionality while also being able to teach me how to love myself; and have both concepts integrated into a mandatory course.

The change that my institution has brought about in me in one year is change I thought I would never endure. I think any rising Spelman woman has a story about their life before Spelman and what exactly Spelman saved them from, and Spelman saved me from myself. It's a blessing to have a whirlwind of talent, but it's a curse to not know how to exercise that talent to the best of your ability and my institution taught me how. By not only reaffirming the presence of my talent, but by putting me in settings where my talent could thrive, I'm forever grateful for Spelman College and the light that she sees in all of her students well before we see it ourselves.

So no, we’re not bougie. What they really meant to say was educated and aware; alert and allergic to nonsense; unbothered and hungry- characteristics usually frowned upon by society when showcased by black women. But we don't care, we do it anyway. I’m Spelman bred, and everything about me says so.
Cover Image Credit: AUC CAM

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18 things all college kids think during their first week home of summer break

Because it's so nice to be home, I think?


1. Ahhh, it's so nice to be home

Buckingham Palace ain't got nothing on this place

2. OMG my pups!! I missed you doggos so much

Just accept my love. Pls. Love me back, I've been gone for 8 months. I'm begging.

3. Wow this queen bed is so big

*cue sleeping in a starfish position*

4. Finally a bedroom to myself

Headphones? I don't know her.

5. But wait, it's kinda scary sleeping in a dark room alone again

"Hello? Are there any ghosts in here?"

6. Sooooooo, no more meal plan?

Are you sure the local Chick-Fil-A doesn't accept meal swipes?

7. Who am I supposed to annoy at 2am if my friends don't live down the hall anymore?

2:30 AM: "Mom? Dad? Wanna go get french fries with me? Maybe watch a movie?"


"Okay maybe tomorrow...Sorry for bothering you. Okay good talk!"

8. "Mom you're going to do my laundry now, right?"

I mean it's kinda your job isn't it?

No? Okay yes ma'am I will do my own laundry no problemo, aye aye captain!

9. Me and my friends are going to spend every day together

*Me talking to myself through the camera on Snapchat*:

"So we're approaching day four with zero human interaction. Pretty good work, but we could do better!"

10. Yes, final grades are in! Can't wait to see what I got this semester!

*Slowly closes computer screen*

11. Do I really have to ask my parents to leave the house?

*Doesn't Ask*:



Mom: "Oh honey you're an adult now, you don't have to ask! Come and go as you please!"

12. Chores? Yea no thank you.

They've been doing them without me for months. They're all set.

13. Wait, so forreal though.. do restaurants in town take my meal plan?

Bank Account: $5.93

*Whispers to worker* "I won't tell if you don't. Just swipe my school ID, see if it works."

14. Will my Juul set off the fire alarm in my bedroom?


*Rips Juul*

15. I kinda underestimated how weird it would be to hang out with people from my high school again.

"Oh no you haven't changed a bit Janice! Your baby is so cute lol."

*Awkwardly laughs*

16. Why do my old friends have new friends?

I don't like this, not one bit.

17. Can they tell that I'm not really listening to their stories about school?

"Yeah haha Delta Sigma Mu sounds sooooo dope Chad, that's ~wild~ that you had late nights three times a week lol!"

"Oh you snuck into the football stadium when the gates were unlocked?? That's crazy, you're crazy, school sounds... crazy!"

18. I'm bored. How long until I can go back to school?

Is it too late for a summer intersession?

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The Feelings That Are Real: Trying, Prospering, Succeeding

Share your smile with the world.

Trying new things, prospering, and succeeding. Three things I am glad I endured in the past year.

These three things have taught me many lessons and helped me to achieve many things. The feelings from each individual endeavor I have taken in this past year has impacted me in many different ways. I never thought my work experience would have such a huge impact on my entire life.

I was always a fashion-lover who had many, many different clothes. I would rather buy clothes than books to read starting at age 8. When I was 16 I got my first job at Lucki Clover, the cutest, elegant boutique in Red Bank, New Jersey.

I was in love with the feeling of walking into "work" and being around an entire store of things I wanted to buy. It was the best day ever when I assisted a woman on her entire "night out" outfit, and she made the purchase. At this job, I really developed an even bigger love for fashion, and I decided that my goal was to include fashion within my future career.

When I would see the shipments of clothes coming in 24/7, I would get excited like a child on Christmas morning. I was in love with fashion.

I found something I was passionate about, and it was a good feeling.

Years passed and I decided to try something totally different. I decided to be a camp counselor. I babysat a couple times, but nothing crazy. I figured, why not try? For 8 weeks, I worked at Pine Grove Day Camp in Wall, New Jersey. I never thought these kids would make me smile so much. All day long, I was impacting these campers and they were impacting me without even knowing it.

I remember being told that on the last day, I may cry. I thought to myself, "They are little kids that I'll be working with for three months, why would I cry?" Well, I was so wrong.

When you hear your camper call you their best friend, you do not think much of it (quite frankly, I would just laugh). On that last day, you realize that you created a huge impact on their lives. Being a counselor does not mean hanging out with your 6th-grade campers on the weekend, it is about creating a camp friendship with them so they can be happy and learn new things.

Along with the campers, the counselors were learning new things and smiling every day. The smiles on these kids faces throughout the day were contagious. I could not help but smile and cry when I saw how upset my campers were to leave at the end of the summer.

I made an impact, it was a good feeling.

Following that, I applied for another retail job. However, instead of clothes, I was dealing with sunglasses. I got the job at Sunglass Hut in the Jersey Shore Premium Outlets in Tinton Falls, New Jersey. I figured I would try something different than before, but something that interested me.

In my first weeks working there, I learned so much knowledge about sunglasses and how their worth is so much more than we think. The materials used to craft some of the sunglasses are so valuable. Before this experience, I just thought of sunglasses as either metal or plastic.

When I made my first customer interaction, I was overwhelmed. I realized that if I did not create a customer relationship, I would most likely not sell a pair of sunglasses. Hours passed, and I made my sales goal for the day.

I achieved what I needed to, it was a good feeling.

With these three experiences, I learned that trying new things leads to prospering and succeeding. It is like a ripple effect. I truly believe I learned these things through my work experience.

Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Think about the last time you truly were proud of yourself. Did you try something new? Did you learn different things? Did you feel yourself smiling ear to ear?

My work experience allowed me to feel my mind and well-being prosper and succeed after trying all these things. You may not experience these things through your work experience, but they are necessary for growth and you will experience them in your own way.

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love." - Maya Angelou

Cover Image Credit: Woman and Sunlight

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